Review by Draven Katayama (loudlysilent)
“House of M” takes place in one of the many alternate Earths that comprise Battleworld during the current Secret Wars event. In this Earth, Magneto rules as King Magnus, and has led mutants to rule over humans. I haven’t read the original “House of M” event from 2005, but was always intrigued by this premise of Magneto basically getting what he wanted. In this issue, we meet the major players that rule and oppose this world.
Dennis Hopeless alternates between two groups of protagonists, and I like the unrushed pacing as both sets of characters are established. Dining in luxury at King Magnus’ castle are siblings Lorna (Polaris), Wanda (Scarlet Witch), and Pietro (Quicksilver). There’s humorous dialogue when Wanda yells at her sons, Wiccan and Speed of Young Avengers fame, on the phone. Pietro is his usual cantankerous self. Lorna and Pietro are perfect foils to each other, and Hopeless’ decision to feature both prominently sets up an entertaining loyal child vs. rebellious child dynamic.
The second group of protagonists are Black Cat, Misty Knight, and Hawkeye: heroes with various abilities but who are humans, not mutants. As these three run from Sentinels, the feeling of danger and urgency feels authentic. These scenes also give Marco Failla and Matt Wilson some of their best moments: I like the crowded street where giant video screens show Black Cat and the others’ mugs as wanted terrorists, and I like how Wilson colors the glint of Hawkeye’s armor on one arm.
Hopeless picks an appealing cast of humans. Black Cat is so often an antogonist, seeing her as a hero/victim feels novel. Misty Knight hasn’t shown up much in comics since “Fearless Defenders,” and I like her no-nonsense attitude, especially contrasted with Hawkeye’s ineptness. Hopeless also brings back a character from “Avengers Arena”: Death Locket! Luke Cage as the leader of the human resisters is a particularly fitting choice.
Wilson’s colors add visual variety and interest. Signature traits like Lorna’s electric green hair and Wanda’s vivid red attire pop in the foreground. Failla’s flourishes on Pietro’s military uniform-like outfit and on Sentinels’ heads look ornate and impressive. Some facial expressions and face shapes are drawn too similarly: see Wanda’s face when she angrily exits the dining room, and Lorna’s face when she frowns on that same page.
The regal setting of “House of M” lets Failla show off with fancy character designs, and the results look great. Small details like the red piping on Lorna’s dress in her last scene are evidence of Failla and Wilson’s thoroughness.
“House of M” sets up an intriguing world by flipping the “Days/Years of Future Past” premise on its head. What makes this issue most enjoyable are the abrasive sibling relationships between the three heirs of Magneto, and especially Lorna and Pietro’s snippy dialogue. Hopeless’ dialogue feels fresh, fun, and authentic to each character. Hopeless is gifted at writing characters with complex motives, and this take on Pietro and Lorna guarantees an entertaining story.
RATING: 8.5 out of 10
Release date: August 19, 2015